KLSD hosts community forum on February 16 to discuss ways to maintain a respectful, inclusive and empathetic environment

Superintendent of Schools Andrew Selesnick extends invitation to discuss the ways in which a community combats hatred and inspires empathy. This invitation follows the repeated instances of swastikas that have been found on school property. The forum is Thursday, February 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the John Jay High School cafeteria.

“My intention for our meeting is to provide a space for dialogue, for the sharing of concerns and hopes, and for thinking together about moving forward,” said Superintendent Selesnick. “While there are steps that schools take to help students understand the meaning and impact of their actions, the work of inspiring empathy and combating hatred is work for a collective, connected community. I hope you will consider joining us.”

The community meeting follows four incidents of swastikas found on school property in the last two months. The most recent was on February 8, at John Jay High School. Students alerted administration to the presence of the symbol in a library bathroom. Once again, the police were notified immediately and have commenced their investigation. Dr. Siciliano, John Jay High School Principal, informed the high school community, and Superintendent Selesnick relayed the news to the district with an invitation to the February 16 community forum.

“A number of students have already exercised real leadership by planning events and programs in response to prior incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti on campus and in the community,” said Dr. Siciliano. “These plans include inviting Mrs. Judith Altmann, who is a Holocaust survivor, to speak to all of us later this month.” The district is also in contact with the Anti-Defamation League about possible programming for the future.

“Please know that our administrators are giving a great deal of thought as to how best to address this pattern of truly hateful and hurtful behavior,” said Superintendent Selesnick. “We are confident it is the behavior of a small percentage of our population. In some cases, we have come to know who is responsible and in others, we have not. Be assured that students found responsible have faced what I believe are very appropriate consequences.”

Read an related piece about this story here.